Well, for all of the writing I’ve done on this, I haven’t really answered the question:
In your opinion, is the “right to education” a basic human right? Why or why not? In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?
After all the reading and reflection I’ve done, I would say that the right to education should be is a basic right, but that education should not be compulsory in all cases. For several reasons, I’m not comfortable making compulsory education a global imperative.
Most have to do with local issues. First, some countries are simply not economically capable of providing universal free education. (Also, the charging of school fees as an alternative to paying for education through taxes is a complicated local decision related in part to local logistical issues. Somehow, someone has to fund education. “Free” is an oversimplification.) Beyond that, I think there must be allowances for local issues of culture, society, values, and governance. I don’t pretend to know what all those issues are, but I think the specifics need to be defined by local populations. (See Stian’s discussion of some of these issues.)
[Another approach to resolving the discomfort I’m feeling with mandated universal education is giving a right to decline as discussed by Greg Francom and others.]
For the country that I live in, a prosperous developed country, I think that the right to a free universal education is a basic human right. Why? Our country has the means to provide this and there is a consensus among our populous that it is a basic right. We may differ somewhat in the specifics of what Tomaševski and/or the UN recommend, but the fundamental right is there.
In our country, I think open access to free, high-quality educational opportunity is not sufficient, but that instead it is important to mandate education through a certain age or level. However, I also think that parents have a right to choose (within some parameters) the specifics for their own children’s’ education.